How do you like your traditional Ulster Fry breakfast...with baked beans or black pudding, hash browns or pancakes?

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The great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first-ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co Down

How do you like your traditional Ulster Fry breakfast? With baked beans or black pudding?

Maybe you prefer the fry with hash browns or pancakes.

Well, the great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first-ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co Down.

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The organisers of the event have already laid down what they expect to see from cooks. They’ve specified that the fry should feature streaky or back bacon, pork sausages, fried egg, griddle baked potato farls and soda bread. Baked beans, hash browns, pancakes and blood puddings will not be accepted.

The Ulster Fry, of course, is a dish that is comprised entirely of locally farmed or created ingredients. Northern Ireland has a large number of great and award-winning producers of bacon, pork sausages and, of course, traditional potato and soda breads.

Griddle breads are a uniquely northern Irish tradition, dating back from the time when farmhouses here didn’t have an oven but a griddle was the only method for making bread every morning.

Promotion body Food NI has long campaigned for a competition to find the tastiest Ulster Ulster Fry and is supporting the championships. The body also seeks to promote Northern Irish griddle breads in Britain by means of a longstanding engagement in the Tiptree World Bread Awards, which now features individual potato bread and Irish wheaten categories.

Food NI’s Michele Shirlow says: “As well as being popular with locals and tourists, visitors regularly tell us just how much they love our favourite breakfast. UK food writer Felicity Cloake, for example, wrote about the Ulster Fry in her hugely successful cookbook Red Sauce Brown Sauce and her love of soda bread going on to say ‘it may well be my favourite of all the national breakfasts.’

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“It’s such a popular dish that I’ve long believed that there should be a competition to find the best Ulster Fry maker here.

“We are excited then to support the first Ulster Fry World championships which will be held on Saturday, August 19 in Donagadee. It would be great to see the event attracting entries from Britain, the Republic and further afield. I am aware that the breakfast already attracts interest from the US and Canada.”

Entries will be accepted from all nine counties of the historic Ulster, as well as an additional entry from Belfast, and are welcome from chefs in cafes, restaurants, hotels, and B&Bs across the province. Entry forms can be obtained from Food NI.

The great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first- ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co Down.
The organisers of the event have already laid down what they expect to see from cooks. They’ve specified that the fry should feature streaky or back bacon, pork sausages, fried egg, griddle baked potato farls and soda bread. Baked beans, hash browns, pancakes and blood puddings will not be accepted. Pictured is a traditional Ulster Fry with the trimmings of black pudding, mushrooms and tomatoes from Blackwell House in ArmaghThe great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first- ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co Down.
The organisers of the event have already laid down what they expect to see from cooks. They’ve specified that the fry should feature streaky or back bacon, pork sausages, fried egg, griddle baked potato farls and soda bread. Baked beans, hash browns, pancakes and blood puddings will not be accepted. Pictured is a traditional Ulster Fry with the trimmings of black pudding, mushrooms and tomatoes from Blackwell House in Armagh
The great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first- ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co Down. The organisers of the event have already laid down what they expect to see from cooks. They’ve specified that the fry should feature streaky or back bacon, pork sausages, fried egg, griddle baked potato farls and soda bread. Baked beans, hash browns, pancakes and blood puddings will not be accepted. Pictured is a traditional Ulster Fry with the trimmings of black pudding, mushrooms and tomatoes from Blackwell House in Armagh

Respected Donaghadee restaurateur and hotelier Denis Waterworth is another supporter of the traditional breakfast competition. The family owns the award-winning Pier 36 and Harbour and Company restaurants and three cafes which all specialise in the Ulster Fry.

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“While we will always try to respond positively to customers seeking different ingredients, our Ulster Fry breaks stick to the purist tradition of bacon, eggs, potato and soda. We’ll usually add tomatoes and mushrooms to the dish but not baked beans,” Denis says. “The search for the best Ulster Fry is a great idea for the town and should be tremendous fun next month.”

The championship is part of a summer festival organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council in the shadow of the iconic Donaghadee lighthouse and the lifeboat station. it will also celebrate the Ulster Scots Heritage, partly because emigrant sailing ships left the small harbour to convey Ulster Presbyterians, in particular, to a new life in the emerging Americas back in the 1740s. They were to become known as the Scotch Irish and were largely responsible for opening up America.

Many of the emigrants will have taken the Ulster Fry ingredients with them to America. It wasn’t, of course, known as an Ulster Fry back then. They’d probably have enjoyed bacon, eggs, butter and traditional griddle breads like purdy oaten.

The great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first-ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co DownThe great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first-ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co Down
The great debate about what should be in an Ulster Fry is being revived next month at the first-ever Ulster Fry World Championships being staged in Donaghadee, Co Down

Wheat wasn’t introduced to Ireland before the late 1700s. Before then flour was made from oats, corn, barley or a mixture of all three.

An expert panel will judge all the entries, and the finalists will be invited to cook their Ulster Fry live in front of an audience for the panel. The winner will then receive a trophy to display proudly in their establishment or home, and boast to those far and wide that they are the Ulster Fry World Champion!

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